• Same Shit, Different Day

    We’ve all heard the phrase before. I heard it first from the movie Dreamcatcher, based on the Stephen King novel. Beaver was on the phone, talking to Jonesy, writing SSDD on the fogged-up phone booth glass. That stuck with me when I was commuting to school, doing my daily routines, deal with my mental faults. Every. Single. Day. The motto of my life for the last… six years in the big city. Or how long Ghost Factor has been in development hell.

    For the last fourteen months, that’s become a staple mantra for everybody, waiting for anything to break the cycle.

    Yet, changes do happen, in or out of your control. I know there were many good changes—and gut-wrenching bad—for 2021, only a couple mattered to me.

    I discovered the new Lego Bonsai tree set they released last January. It was sold out for a few months until I snagged it on a random visit to Downtown Disney. I never got into Lego, only admired others that did. The set, however, fits my needs in this bleak era. It took me a couple hours to put together, along with a sore upper back from sitting for so long on the dining room chair, but happy I did something besides doom-scrolling. Having the model on my desk with my Little Buddha and my salt lamp makes the space calm during those long workdays.

    Second was last month I was FINALLY qualified for the COVID-19 vaccine based on my weight. The first and second (last Friday) Moderna jabs only produced a sore left arm and wicked hot flashes for a day. There was some lightheadedness from the second jab, but a nap got me through that.

    After that, SSDD.

    However, I am writing a second blog post after this. I mentioned it long ago, finally getting to it, so I hope you like it. Probably the first and last deep fantasy piece I’ll ever write.

    Last is I’m thinking of restarting my Patreon page. Back then I had no good reason to have one, like unable to release anything really, and just closed it. This time it’ll be a tip jar (for now) along with my Ko-fi page, so expect that to show up soon.

    That’s all I got for now. Gotta get back to that blog post.

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  • My 2021 Reading Plan

    Photo by Caio on Pexels.com

    I still hate Valentine’s Day. Let’s talk about something other than chocolate, the color pink,…. and love.

    Recently finished reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It was a good read from Dan’s skeptical (at first) view of meditation and Buddhism years after his on-air panic attack. I heard about this book before from other sources, never got around until late 2020 (shivers from the number) to read it, but not a stranger to meditation. I do it, but not regularly. I noticed that since the 20th, I haven’t meditated much. Maybe because I feel certain and secure the internet is not a dumpster fire every day. The science of meditation, he delved, was very compelling. A chance for me to settle my overactive imagination after a bad day at my day job.

    But it’s now becoming apparent that reading a lot of non-fiction, as a fiction writer and editor, takes a toll on my interests. For six years after moving out of Big Bear, I’ve read more self-help books than fiction, more compared to the college textbooks I cared to read. Most were writing books, but there were habit books, personal finance, how-to-live books, mental health, and a couple biographies. Always in need of that extra bit of help. Reddit was there, but I scoffed at it forever until I discovered not all subreddits are toxic.

    Some insight was adapted from those books. Like bullet journaling. Did that for three years with large notebooks until I determined all the tasks can be done in a single Field Notes notebook. And there were bad self-help books I’ve read. One is still in my library and I’m still questioning why I’m still keeping it.

    And the digital ebooks I collected from Humble Bundle and other sources? Who knows when I’ll dig into that.

    It’s best to summarize is I read a lot and adopt what works for me.

    I still read fiction over the years. It was a pitiful… two to three fiction books a year on average. Last year was Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, The Waste Lands by Stephen King (The Dark Tower #3), Dune by Frank Herbert, The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith, Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal, and Sunstone Vol. 6 by Stjepan Šejić. Not at all proud of the amount, personally.

    This year, I’m putting my foot down. I have to drop reading non-fiction regularly and read more fiction. So, I’ve set a non-fiction reading list of what I have left. Here’s my list for, I hope, for the next few months.

    • Practical Meditation for Beginners by Benjamin W. Decker
    • No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners by Noah Rasheta
    • Feeling Great by David D. Burns
    • You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple by Seth J Gillihan
    • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    • Buddhism… by Michael Williams
    • A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemmingway
    • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
    • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (Audiobook)
    • Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau

    It’s no surprise the connections in this list. Buddhism is not my following, but it correlates to my meditation and yoga practice, just to broaden my knowledge. The War of Art and Side Hustle are re-reads for me. There are lessons in them I want to go over again. And the rest is to help cope with quarantine until I get my vaccine into my arm.

  • Farewell 2020

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    For the last few days, many people have expressed their thoughts about 2020. Most of them were reflections of lessons learned, experiences gained and being grateful for what they have.

    But really, 2020 just needs a good roasting, left in the oven, forgotten, and shot with a rocket launcher. Pronto.

    2020 was more of a mental pickaxe to my brain. The constant social media and bad news binges, the absolute dread of what would happen but never did in my circles, and the constant false starts on just about everything. I’ve journaled about it and not looking forward to reading those entries at all. The journal just spews black ichor when seen through a filter.

    The greatest of all mental anguish was waiting. Waiting for 2020 to be over with. Like just… doing nothing but rap my fingers against the table, watching the clock and date change each day, having some of the worst brain fog not only on my writing but my adulting life. Everything frozen. Holding my breath for good news, any news, to surface that is safe enough to get behind. Emphasis on “safe.” Hell, anxiety attacks were a norm in the summer.

    However, there were pieces of good news I’ll keep: a new president with experience for next year, a very rough draft of Ghost Factor, and my little brother got engaged (wedding is next fall I heard).

    We all need normalcy right now.

    2021 is shaping up to be a year of healing and recovery, whether or not it’ll be that way. When vaccinations are in full swing, things will slowly get back to normal. I’m looking forward to traveling again, a lot more than before.

    But most of all, shutting up all the bad chatter I habitually gobbled up since 2020 started.

    Happy New Year. May 2020 burn in Hell.

  • Finally

    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

    It’s done.

    After eight mentally exhausting years of loss, gains, ups and downs, and sheer doubt in myself and my skills, Mana Pool – The Ghost Factor’s ROUGH draft is finished.

    flips table

    screams into the day

    Twenty-eight chapters. More than the first book. But the word count can put people off. Why is it so low compared to Mana Pool’s combined 120,000-ish word count, you ask? As I said, it’s a rough draft, not the final. The draft has full narrative chapters and scenes, but the rest has bullet point plot lines, dialogue, and narrative clips I could only write down in my jagged mental state. The dialogue is so broken every character sounds the same. Character motivations are broken; no reason why they do what they do from the plot. The first-person POV switch method from the first book is back, so I need to balance out to narrative. In some cases, the characters are complete idiots with raging temper tantrums. If this was a Nanowrimo novel, I cheated and dishonored myself with just bullet points.

    And I’m okay with that.

    This is the rough draft. Not the first, second, or even the final. Nothing in the world is written as the final draft unless it’s a quick tweet or half-assing an essay for school twenty-four hours before its due.

    looks at the mirror

    I’m not a professional writer. Still an amateur and still learning the craft, the business, and myself.

    These eight years writing that draft was like stainless steel nails (outside and inside events) against a college chalkboard from the seventies (my mind). There were times I could write, and most I couldn’t. Whether it was losing family members to death, moving to a new town, having my first “real” job sucking my creative energy out, or the constant, anxiety-driven clusterfuck of social media and Cheeto-Dust-Face’s breaking news every day hammered so much uncertainty into my mind, numbness was all I felt. It came down to do my day job, get my paycheck, and panic from uncertainty until sleep. And that is excluding the pandemic and lockdown.

    And then I had a panic attack last summer. It lasted for four hours in the morning. Haven’t had one since, well, eight years ago at the hospital. A hard wake-up call.

    Shoving that aside, the rough draft is in my possession, and for the first time, I feel free. I’m taking a break for a week from any writing. I want to feel normal for once.

    So what’s going to happen when the final draft is complete, or when? Good question.

    Traditional publishing is still out for obvious reasons. Self-publishing the novel like Mana Pool is also out since I have no editor yet. So now it’s back to basics: serializing it.

    I need feedback. Want to know what works in the story and what doesn’t when it’s sent directly to readers. Need that confidence boost and knowledge where I am skill-wise. My idea is to publish a chapter a week on my website, but more places such as Tapas. But when the first chapter drops is still undecided. This is just the beginning of my publishing plan. Need to do the work first.

    But then there’s DeviantART.

    Let’s face it, DeviantART is not for me anymore. It was fun at the beginning. That’s where I built my first audience. Their choices with announcing and forcing the Eclipse UI into everybody’s eyes last spring was terrible. It’s ugly, it doesn’t have all the features I’ve grown used to, and posting stories and journals feels clunky, even for people who don’t know how to use the new formatting tools. PDF uploads are an option, but it collides with the PDF view placement and dark mode when the doc is pure white.

    So, posting the chapters on DeviantART is out. I’m sorry but that’s my choice. It’s a risk to lose that small audience, but not an issue to restart my writing life on new platforms. Maybe try Medium as well, or restart my Patreon. Who knows.

    For now, I’m taking a break from the draft, drink a rum and Coke, hike in the park tomorrow morning, and try to relax for once.